Thursday, January 15, 2009

"Nerve block" is a Euphemism

*Warning: There is a picture of my surgical incision at the end of this post. If you do not like seeing such things, come back another day.*

I mentioned last week that I've been having some pain along part of the incision from my surgery last year. Well, I finally saw the surgeon about it last week, and he sent me to the anesthesiologist today to get what he casually, and apparently euphemistically, referred to as a "nerve block."

Figuring I may as well take advantage of the fact that I am friends with an anesthesiologist (that's an annoying word to type), I called him yesterday to get the scoop on this thing. Big deal? No big deal? Drive myself home? That type of thing.

Assured that it was no big deal and that I did not need anyone to drive me home, I arrived at the hospital expecting to go into a little dr's office type exam room, lift up my shirt, get a shot, and be on my way.

Instead, upon my arrival, I was ushered into the SAME pre-op room that I was prepped for surgery in last February. (Talk about scary flashback!) I was told to put on a gown, and then I had one of those oxygen thingys put on my finger. I said to the nurse, "I didn't expect such a big production for a shot." She didn't say much.

A few minutes later, Andy (my anesthesiologist friend) and two other anesthesiologists entered the room and began prodding and poking and discussing amongst themselves what might be the best course of action to help with my pain and my huge Frankenstein knot, formerly known as a rib. In walks a fourth anesthesiologist, and I told them I really wasn't comfortable making a decision on the advice of only four doctors.

So, they decided the best thing would be to inject a local anesthetic (Which I guess is another term for "nerve block?" I learned surprisingly little listening to four doctors discuss my medical care. I guess I can scratch that off my list of med school alternatives.) along the entire length of my incision and inject some steroids into part of it and into the Frankenstein knot.

(I was a little sad to have to give up my dreams of being an Olympic track star for this, but then I found out that there are different types of steroids, and that these would not disqualify me from from the 440, so now I have to decide whether to start running again or fake a really bad knee injury.)

About the time I heard mention of "going along the entire incision," I got a little panicky. This incision is not small; it's 10 1/2 inches long. This was sounding like it was going to involve a lot of needles.

"No problem," said anesthesiologist #2, "We'll give you someting to take the edge off." Which by the way, is one of my favorite things to hear a doctor say. Some people don't like being put to sleep or sedated. I am not one of those people. Unfortunately, anesthesiologist "friend" Andy spoke up and mentioned that I would be driving myself home and, therefore, could not be sedated. Yeah, because HE told me I didn't need anyone. Now thanks to him, I have to get multiple injections on an already painful incision, and I can't even get the good drugs that might have made it all worthwhile.

So, instead of going in and getting one little shot, here's what I got (I zoomed in really close so it wouldn't look *gasp* risque or anything, so you can't see the entire incision. It goes up about another inch at the top.):

Each of those dots is where he gave me an injection. I counted FIFTEEN of them.

The moral of this story: Always take a friend with you for medical procedures in case there's even the slightest possibility of being offered sedatives. Because one should never turn those down when there are needles in the room.

(By the way . . . an added bonus to such a great scar: If you look really closely toward the top left, you can see the "x" shaped scar where my chest tube was. My friend Katie suggested I draw a little pirate on my belly and be a treasure map for Halloween, but that part's really faded a lot now. Maybe I'll get lucky and need another one next year.)


Nikki said...

Gosh girl, that is one big incision. I thought my 7 incher was a pretty big, nasty scar. I hope the nerve block will at least provide you with some relief. How's it feeling so far?

Anonymous said...

OMG! Bless your heart! I hate being the patient, and I agree that overhearing them discuss whatever is going on with me is bad, but not hearing wourd be worse!!! And then not getting much relief is not great either!

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I love drugs. I love reading your blogs and entries. Cracks me up every time.